News Release

Georgetown awarded $23.6M to study treatments for acute rhinosinusitis

Grant and Award Announcement

Georgetown University Medical Center

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2022) – The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded a Georgetown University Medical Center research team led by Dan Merenstein, MD, professor of family medicine at Georgetown’s School of Medicine, $23.6 million in research funding to study treatments for acute rhinosinusitis.

Acute rhinosinusitis involves inflammation of the nose and sinus passages, most often caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms often include congestion,headaches, sinus pressure, facial pain and a green/yellow nasal discharge.

“Acute rhinosinusitis leaves people feeling miserable and desperate for relief, and their care providers eager to help,” says Merenstein, professor and director of research programs for Georgetown’s Department of Family Medicine. “Unfortunately, in the absence of clinically proven treatments, providers often prescribe antibiotics. We want to know if there’s a better way to treat patients and alleviate symptoms quicker, while also figuring out who really benefits from antibiotics and should take them as soon as possible.” Merenstein is also a professor at the School of Health where he teaches undergraduate classes.

In the U.S., one in seven adults every year is diagnosed with acute rhinosinusitis (totaling 30 million office visits) leading to antibiotics prescribed to one in five adults. In addition to antibiotics, nasal sprays such as intranasal corticosteroids (INCS), over-the-counter supportive treatment, or saline nasal irrigation (SNI) may help improve symptoms.

“Our study goal is to understand what treatment approaches are best at improving outcomes for patients,” Merenstein explains. “Do antibiotics really improve the course of symptoms or are options such as nasal irrigation or nasal sprays with a corticosteroid more effective? We hope the information we learn in this study can be used by providers and those suffering from this tough to treat condition.”

Nawar M. Shara, PhD, director of Biostatistics, Informatics and Data Science at MedStar Health Research Institute, is the co-investigator for the study.  The research collaboration also involves investigators from the University of Washington, UCLA, Virginia Commonwealth University, Penn State and the University of Wisconsin.

Together, the investigators will recruit more than 3,700 people diagnosed with acute rhinosinusitis to the largest clinical trial of its kind to study various treatment approaches. The randomized clinical trial will compare outcomes among treatments with antibiotics, INCS, and antibiotics plus INCS. Some arms of the study will include a placebo.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

Merenstein’s study was selected for funding through a PCORI initiative to support large-scale, high-impact comparative effectiveness research trials in a multi-phase format allowing for testing and refinement of the study approach. The study will involve an initial feasibility phase to maximize the likelihood of full trial success. The study was selected through a highly competitive review process in which patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders joined scientists to evaluate the proposals.


Merenstein’s award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

 About Georgetown University Medical Center
As a top academic health and science center, Georgetown University Medical Center  provides, in a synergistic fashion, excellence in education — training physicians, nurses, health administrators and other health professionals, as well as biomedical scientists — and cutting-edge interdisciplinary research collaboration, enhancing our basic science and translational biomedical research capacity in order to improve human health. Patient care, clinical research and education is conducted with our academic health system partner, MedStar Health. GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on social justice and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or “care of the whole person.” GUMC comprises the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, School of Health, Biomedical Graduate Education, and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a doctoral university with "very high research activity,” Georgetown is home to a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, and a Comprehensive Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. Connect with GUMC on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@gumedcenter).

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